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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: (whorl) The Light Outside and Kypris
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 09:01:44 

[Posted from WHORL, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

On Fri, 6 Jun 1997 m.driussi@genie.com wrote:

> Re: light of ship's engines.  Hmmm.  Now I could'a sworn that what
> Silk was seeing was the short sun "rising" over the "horizon" of the
> spinning Whorl.  Silk makes the (quite Platonic, imho) leap of
> associating the Outsider with the short sun, the big white fire that
> fills him with fear.

As others were confused about this, I'll mention we're talking about the
scene in _Lake_ where Silk is down in one of the landers and sees the
stars and the outside of the Whorl.  He then sees a bright light at one
end of the Whorl and then the entire Whorl is shaken in a manner that
makes Silk think the hand (or just the finger) of the Outsider has shaken
it.  Silk's description of the shaking makes it seem like a singular
event, not something Whorl inhabitants are used to experiencing, which is
what made me think that the ships engines were firing for the first time
in many years.  Which made me think "The ship has arrived at its
destination!"  Which puts a kink in the idea that the Whorl has been
orbiting for a long time (an interpretation that otherwise appeals to me). 

Mantis continues:
> Back to Earth: there are in fact goddesses of Love & War, but they
> aren't in the Greco-Roman playset.  We have cases from the Middle
> East.  But again, they are defined as such--they aren't War goddesses
> who are taking night classes in kama sutra, for example.

> If what we are seeing on the Whorl is a non-static system, or a
> system seeking stasis (equilibrium), then we are witnessing the
> evolution of gods.  This pattern is reinforced by the progression of
> Pas (Greek) into Tammuz/Osiris (Sumero-Egyptian)--the first role was
> ad hoc, the second role was earned.
> So Kypris may be evolving towards becoming a full blown Love & War
> goddess, like Inanna (which would dovetail [heh] quite nicely with
> Pas as Tammuz).  And there is =no= question that this Love Goddess is
> a powerful, forceful, absolutely fearsome being.  Just ask Adonis!
> Or Gilgamesh!  Or Robert Graves!

I think the key passage (and I don't know where it is - either Exodus or
the end of Calde) is where Silk speculates that the more Kypris becomes a
true love goddess, the more she will become like the Outsider.  Which
makes me think that Horn's comment at the end of Exodus about a love
goddess not being able to make Mint a warrior was meant to highlight the
difference between a "Love Goddess" conception of Love (being all about
romance) and a Christian conception of Love (exemplified by one who
endures suffering for his beloved).  Christians sometimes picture God's
love as a consuming fire which devours evil.

So, I read the Horn's comment as a poke by Wolfe saying, "Ha! Were you
thinking like Horn that Love is all perfume and roses?  Think again!"  It
certainly goes along with Silk's disillusionment when he realizes Hyacinth
can be a nasty fighter when she needs to be.

Someone else speculated that Kypris is just the digitized personality of a
concubine, who would know very little about being a military leader, but I
think that there's a lot of evidence that possession grants the possessed
person abilities far beyond what the original digitized person was capable
of.  Are we to believe that Kypris the concubine could throw a knife as
Chenille does?  Or that Typhon the tyrant was able to understand and
repair any mechanical device as Auk does? 


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